Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Irony Of Police 'Sensitivity'

Given the brutal manner in which some police officers discharge their authority, it always strikes me as just a tad 'precious' when they complain about how unjustly they are being treated whenever the press offers some criticism of their practices.

In responding to The Toronto Star's series, Police Who Lie, Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, complains that the investigative project is a gross misrepresentation of police practices, and condemns it for using a presentation style disturbingly similar to the covers of tabloid magazines that grab your attention while you’re standing in the checkout line at the grocery store.

The sad truth is that the police have no one but themselves to blame when their behaviour is held up to public scrutiny and found wanting. And what McCormack fails to acknowledge is that the public has every right to know about misconduct which, in the case of the Toronto Police, has taken many forms, lying in court being only one of them.

Who, for example, can forget the wiretapping and surveillance conducted upon former Police Services Board Chair Susan Eng, done when Mike's father, William, was the Toronto Police Chief? Eng attributed this illegal activity to the fact that prior to becoming chair of the board, she had been a vocal critic of the police.

Then, as just another example, there was Craig Bromell, former head of the police union now being led by Mike McCormack. In cases of involving investigation by the SIU, Bromell told his members not to co-operate with its inquiries and threatened lawsuits against police critics. Such directives and threats hardly fostered an environment conducive to the public trust that the constabulary seems to believe is its due.

The infamous G20 misconduct, in which Toronto police played a key role, is well-knowned, attested to even by voices as credible as Steve Paikin's.

So I'm sorry that public scrutiny so-much disheartens Mike McCormack and his troops, but he is going to have to learn that because police wield so much power, they must be held to the highest standards, and if they want to avoid criticism, they are going to have to govern themselves by those standards.

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